January 18, 2022

Designs For a $200 Million Renovation of New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan Branch Approved

From The Wall Street Journal (Subscribers Only) or via Google Research Results:

A planned $200 million makeover of the Mid-Manhattan Library would transform the busy but shopworn branch into a light-filled space with soaring atriums, a rooftop terrace and room for some 400,000 books and other circulating materials.

The New York Public Library’s board of trustees approved schematic designs for the project Wednesday afternoon

Designed by the Dutch architecture and design firm Mecanoo and New York’s Beyer Blinder Belle, the project is the largest public-private overhaul in the system’s history, library officials said. New York City has allocated $150.7 million to renovate the six-story building. The remaining costs will come from private fundraising.


The revamped facility would have eight stories and more than 100,000 square feet of public space.

Library officials said it would include seating for nearly 1,500 patrons, a 30% increase over the combined current capacity of the current circulating library and the Science, Industry and Business Library at Madison Avenue and 34th Street, which will be closed once the renovation is completed.

Direct to Full Text: The Wall Street Journal (Subscribers Only) or via Google Research Results

More Details Direct From NYPL:

The New York Public Library is sharing its first rendering of a totally renovated Mid-Manhattan Library, the system’s aging but highly-used central circulating branch on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street. The renovation will increase seats, expand services, and add public space at the branch, which receives 1.7 million visits annually and is located across the street from the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Construction on the project — which was just approved by the Library’s Board of Trustees — will start in 2018.

 The Library also shared some new details about the renovated branch.

Highlights include:

  • It will have 35 percent more public space than the current Mid-Manhattan Library, which opened in the 1970s in a space designed to be a department store.
  • A “Long Room”—the largest element in the new branch which is depicted in the rendering— will offer five floors of open, browsable book stacks, and two floors of meeting rooms. The shelves will all be located on one side of the building, maximizing capacity and efficiency.
  • It will have the only rooftop terrace in midtown that will be free and open to the public
  • Children and teen libraries will be added to the branch
  • It will include an adult learning center (for ESOL classes, workforce development, etc) and a business library
First rendering of a totally renovated Mid-Manhattan Library Credit: Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle

First rendering of a totally renovated Mid-Manhattan Library Image Credit: Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle

From the NY Times:

“Loud and clear, people wanted the books in the library,” said Iris Weinshall, the New York Public Library’s chief operating officer. “The same amount of books that are in the library today will be in the new branch.”

The design follows a year-long study — led by Francine Houben of Mecanoo and Elizabeth Leber of Beyer Blinder Belle, the architect of record — that included usage data and interviews with staff, members of the public and community activists.


In a not-so-subtle reference to the presidential election, [NYPL President] Mr. [Tony] Marx said that the new design is the right plan for today’s world. “At a time when America seems to be closing opportunities and feeling less inclusive, this library is making the largest investment in its history in a central branch library that provides opportunities for all to learn and is welcoming to all comers,” he said. “That’s our stake in the ground.”

Read the Complete NY Times Article

See Also: Washington D.C. Re-imagine a New Central Library
Another Mecanoo project.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.